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Man dies in Queensland floodwaters as heavy rainfall causes Inglewood to be evacuated, cars swept off road in state's south

By Rebecca Hyam and staff, Wednesday December 1, 2021 - 13:22 AEDT
ABC image
The town of Inglewood has effectively been shut down due to the flooding. - ABC

A man has died in floodwaters in southern Queensland after two cars were swept off a road as major flooding continues to inundate homes and spark evacuations.


Police said two utes got into trouble just before 9:00am on Wednesday at Yalangur, near Toowoomba.


While one person managed to escape the rising floodwaters, police found the body of a 73-year-old man inside the other vehicle.


Last Thursday, a man ? also in his 70s ? died when his ute was swept into a flooded creek near Emerald in central Queensland.


It comes as residents in the southern border town of Inglewood have been evacuated due to rising floodwaters that have swamped homes, businesses and streets.


Authorities are monitoring rivers in several Central Queensland and southern Queensland regions.


An emergency alert has been issued for Leyburn and residents in the small town of Yelarbon, downstream of Inglewood, are now being evacuated.


It comes as the Queensland Police Service (QPS) said the emergency declaration for Inglewood remained in place with about 800 residents now evacuated from low-lying areas.


A number of homes and properties have been inundated with floodwater, with residents reporting loss of property including cars.


Goondiwindi Regional Council Mayor Lawrence Springborg said residents would be moved to the Goondiwindi showgrounds.


"We do expect there'll be some inundation there and we're asking people to prepare their belongings and wait for further [advice] from police as to when that evacuation will happen," he said.


The Macintyre Brook reached the major flood level early on Wednesday at 11.2 metres, shattering a previous 1988 level record of 10.5 metres.


QPS said the Inglewood PSPA would remain in place until police could assess the scene prior to allowing residents to return to their homes.


Goondiwindi residents moved to showgrounds


Roads in Inglewood and Goondiwindi have been cut by flooding, with Coolmunda Dam already overflowing.  


"It was a very difficult night; it was wet and muddy night for people," Mr Springborg said.


"But they are in very good spirits given the circumstances and they had to respond quickly and basically leave their homes within half and hours' notice."


Kim Rush, the owner of SPAR Inglewood, said it was a wild night for residents.


"People were moving out fast, there was quite a line-up of cars heading out to get to the cemetery and police vehicles and SES getting around directing people to evacuate the town," she said.


She said people in the town had been devastated by the floodwater.


"Because the power stayed on, I could monitor what was going on as the water slowly crept in," she said.


"I think maybe over a foot [of water] has come through the store.


"It's definitely washed the bottom layers of my shelves, or I put as much stuff up as I could but there just was no time to get prepared for it."


Emergency Services Minister Mark Ryan said swift water rescue crews has been pre-deployed to the areas of most concern in Roma, Goondiwindi and Chinchilla in the past few days.


"We need people to stay alert and across the warnings as flash flooding can occur almost anywhere in Queensland with very little notice," he said.


The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Greg Leach said there had been multiple rescues of people who have driven into fast-moving floodwaters across the state.


Commissioner Leach said some people have not been taking heed of the warnings.


Some reprieve expected as system moves offshore


The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said more than 50 gauges in the south-east recorded in excess of 100 millimetres of rain in the 24 hours to Wednesday morning.


Senior Meteorologist at BOM Laura Boekel said the weather system that was causing widespread rain had now moved offshore.


"So we can see a little bit of reprieve in terms of this very widespread rainfall that has caused so much impact across Queensland," she said.


"Although it's really important to note that we are expecting to see showers and storms today.


"The activity today will be a lot more isolated but definitely not over."


She also warned that the catchments are so saturated, they do not need much rain for flooding to occur.


Dozens of properties affected on Southern Downs


Southern Downs Regional Council local disaster coordinator Michael Bell said multiple properties at Leyburn had also been either directly or indirectly affected.


"We know there were a number of properties that would've had buildings potentially inundated or affected by floodwater," he said.


"In addition to those properties, and there's about four or five that we had identified at that stage ... there were also a number of properties that have lower-lying areas ... but not impacting directly on buildings or structures.


"Obviously as the waters recede it will identify potential infrastructure such as roads that have incurred damage, again we would encourage the community to report that as quickly as they can."


The Southern Downs Regional Council expected dozens of properties to be affected. 


Mr Bell said volunteers would be doorknocking residents in Pratten this morning to warn them to be prepared.


"But again because it is going to encroach on those low lying areas, its likely to be the eastern side of Pratten, so it will encroach but again following the creek alignment," he said.


Major flood warnings for Dawson River and Logan River


Major flooding is occurring at Beaudesert, the BOM said, with a major flood warning issued for the Logan River and a flood warning for the Albert River. 


The peak at Beaudesert was expected later on Wednesday afternoon at about 10.8m, with waters at 10.67m shortly before noon.


Further west, there have been heavy flows at Jack Taylor Weir on the Balonne River at St George.  


North, the Dawson River in Taroom is also in major flood, while moderate flooding is also expected today in Theodore and in the central Queensland town of Baralaba. 


Mr Markworth from BOM said some rivers could continue to rise in the coming days.


"Very little concern except for potentially the Bremer River and the Logan Rivers down near the south-east where we could see some continued rainfall but again it's an easing trend," he said.


"We do have major flood warnings along the Condamine, McIntyre Brook, McIntyre River down on the New South Wales border? and then up through the Central Highlands, major flooding also around the Dawson River, particularly around Taroom stretching right up into the Carnarvon Ranges region as well."


Commissioner Leach said it had been a busy start to the severe weather season.


"In the past 24 hours the State Emergency Service has received more than 320 calls for assistance," he said on Wednesday morning.


"More than half of those State Emergency Service jobs were in the Brisbane area."


Perilous driving conditions


BOM senior hydrologist Andrew Preece said driving conditions across Queensland's central and southern interior would be perilous in the days ahead.


"In terms of the border river catchments, so the Darling Downs and the Granite Belt and those sorts of areas, we?ve got very, very wet catchments ? saturated catchments," he said.


"Even small amounts of rain really get into the river systems very quickly and start those rivers and creeks rising very quickly, so we certainly urge caution when travelling in the next couple of days."


Ms Boekel said some longstanding weather records had been broken courtesy of the big wet.


"We've now seen 18 different locations record their wettest November on record, so I guess that just highlights the significance of this rainfall," she said.


A man was fined $551 after emergency services had to tow his vehicle from floodwaters at Alberta, west of Baralaba, yesterday.


The man allegedly tried to navigate his vehicle across more than 100m of water that was about 2 metres deep with a strong current.







- ABC

© ABC 2021

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